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Eager to experience the beauty, passion, and adventure of Hungary? These beautiful Hungarian cities and places are must-add stops to your future European getaway.
From electric nightlife to gripping history, magnificent architecture to stunning beauty, whatever you’re looking for, chances are you’ll find it in these exciting places.
So buckle up for a whirlwind tour of one of Central Europe’s underrated gems, as we dive in and explore 12 of Hungary’s most beautiful places, and what they have in store.
Most Beautiful Hungarian Cities and Places
1 – Budapest
What else could be your first stop in Hungary, if not Budapest?
Budapest has been voted the most beautiful European capital multiple times and you can’t really argue with the decision unless you’re a serious Paris or Rome fan.
The river Danube divides the city into two parts: the more industrial, urbanized Pest, and the historical, noble Buda.
The Hungarian capital is not a place you could get to know on a weekend. It has plenty of sights to see such as the Parliament, the Buda Castle, the Fishermen’s Bastion, and the Heroes Square, just to mention the most popular ones.
It’s worth climbing up to the Statue of Liberty at the top of Gellért Hill where you can enjoy the romantic sunset or the lit-up view of the city.
Don’t forget to dip yourself in one of the historical thermal baths like the Gellért or the Rudas Bath.
When the sun goes down head to the Jewish quarter, which has become a party district recently.
Famous ruin pubs like Szimpla can give you the unique mixture of the communist era and the modern bar trends.
If you’re more into culture and sights, the city’s 86 museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum, and the National Gallery in the Castle will surely please you.
2 – Eger
Eger offers cultural and historical variety to its visitors. The town is best known for its castle and the siege of Eger that took place between the Hungarian castle guards and the conquering Ottomans in 1552.
In spite of the huge Turkish overpower, the Hungarians miraculously won thanks to their endurance and the women who joined the battle.
A book was written about the story by Géza Gárdonyi (Eclipse of the Crescent Moon), that’s been published in many countries and is one on the list of mandatory books in Hungary.
Géza is one of the most known writers in Hungarian literacy who also has a memorial house in town.
Eger is an important Roman Catholic center of the country with a Catholic university and a huge basilica.
For those who are more interested in some relaxing activities, there’s a nice thermal bath.
3 – Baradla
If you’re interested in caves, the stalactite cave named Baradla can be a good choice. You can enter the cave system in Aggtelek, a small village close to the Slovakian border.
Its visitors’ center is part of the Bükk National Park. Though the area belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage, visitors are mostly Hungarian citizens since the village is far from Budapest and the roads are not the best quality up there either.
The cave’s acoustic is good enough to have concerts, its so-called Great Hall was specially designed for these events.
The walking tour within the cave is 7 kilometers long but if you’re claustrophobic the forests of the Bükk mean a reasonable alternative.
The cave is also an underground way to Slovakia but you can’t cross countries there for obvious reasons.
4 – Debrecen
Debrecen as the city with the second most inhabitants is also a must-see. It’s the center of the Eastern region both from an industrial and educational point of view.
The Calvinist Rome as it’s often referred to has been the center of the Hungarian reformation ever since Martin Luther started to spread his words in Germany.
Its most famous building is also connected to religion, the Reformed Great Church with its two towers is the number one symbol of the city.
The local university is one of the oldest ones in Hungary, and it’s famous for its quality medical education that attracts talented youngsters from all around the country.
Debrecen is often said to be the ‘most liveable’ city because everything is optimal for starting a family here: great schools and health care facilities, good job opportunities and all these within a relatively green environment that successfully connects historical times and the 21st century.
If you plan your visit for the 20th of August (which happens to be the day of founding the Hungarian State), Debrecen offers you a very unique and spectacular event, the Flower Carnival.
5 – Pécs
Moving to the south-east part of the country, Pécs is definitely worth stopping by. As much as Budapest looks like a western capital, Pécs is more like a little Mediterranean pearl close to the hills of Mecsek.
It’s very old, founded by the Romans, and called Sopianae since the 4th century that results in many historical sights throughout its area, for example, the Early Christian Mausoleum and the Cella Septhicora Center.
Hungary is famous for its ceramics and potteries. There are three manufacturers that earned the appreciation of both the industry and the public across Europe: the Hollóházi, the Herendi, and the Zsolnay pieces.
The latter is an indispensable part of Pécs’s history: other than the Zsolnay Quarter of town and the Zsolnay Museum, the Zsolnay family’s impact is also visible everywhere you go, as they were the ultimate patrons of the cultural development of the city.
Due to its southern location, the city was conquered by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire who have built a giant mosque in the center. This is still the greatest mosque in Central-Eastern Europe.
6 – Mátra
Mátra is the highest mountain in Hungary, even if its highest point is only 1014 meters above sea level. Its center is Mátraháza, a small village bordered by forests.
In the winter, it’s a ski resort, and in the summer, it’s the go-to place for hiking lovers.
Mátraháza realized pretty early that they need to offer something more than a few trails to attract young people so the Base of High-Tech Sports was established a few years ago and now they guarantee exciting activities to all visitors.
You can try mountain rollers, e-quads, field archery, field segways, winecaching; you can go alone, with your family or with your colleagues as they offer special team-building programs, and the list goes on.
The village itself has only 290 inhabitants but generally, the place is full of tourists as it has rentable apartments and some top-notch wellness hotels.
7 – Szeged
Szeged is also a very special place. It’s divided into two parts by the River Tisza that makes it romantic to walk along for young couples.
Its university is competing with Debrecen’s and Budapest’s best schools. It hosts the annual SZSZJ Festival, which is a huge open-air cultural festival held at the Dom Square, and also some smaller musical open-air events since the acoustics of the place is great.
It’s a culinary center of Hungary with great restaurants and many recipes originating from the town itself.
The people of Szeged proudly state that their version of the typical Hungarian fish soup is the original and is better than the version of Baja. (The bajai has noodles in the soup, the szegedi doesn’t). Well, to make a fair decision, you have to taste both.
Also, if you ever wondered where Pick salami is made – which is kind of the number one thing you could find from Hungary in foreign countries’ supermarkets – it comes from the town of Szeged.
8 – Sárospatak
Sárospatak, aka the Athens along the Bodrog, or “the school town,” as it’s often called, is one of the absolute centers of quality education in Hungary.
Its Reformed College was established more than 500 years ago, raising generations of talented youngsters between the age of 14 and 22.
Though the centuries have passed by, the school still operates and is one of the best in the country.
The famous Hungarian architect, Imre Makovecz had a huge influence on the cityscape, he designed several buildings in his unique, ‘ancient Hungarian mixed with modern architecture design: the House of Culture, the General Store, the Árpád Vezér Secondary School, and many others.
Sárospatak is also known for its history with the Rákóczis, a patriotic family in the history of Hungary. The Rákóczi castle is part of the National Museum.
It hosts several temporary exhibitions every year in addition to its standard one about the families who ruled the area since the 16th century.
9 – Gyula
Gyula is the ideal destination for families if they plan a vacation within the country.
The Great Hungarian Plain, where Gyula is located, also has some thermal water springs so the town had a huge beach built with thermal pools for the elderly and adventure attractions for the smallest ones.
The pools are on the same property as the Almásy Castle that is now a museum for those interested in culture.
Some buildings that belonged originally to the castle are used now as inner pool areas. For example, the old riding-hall has been turned into a swimming pool.
The thermal water of Gyula comes to the surface from 2.5 kilometers underground and is a great reliever of muscular and neurological pain.
The kolbász (Hungarian sausage) of Gyula is a famous and popular Hungarian food.
10 – Balatonfüred
If you’ve already been to Gyula but you’re looking for a vacation place, Balatonfüred is a great choice.
Located on the shore of Lake Balaton, which happens to be the biggest lake in Central and Eastern Europe, Füred has been the first popular resort town in Hungary.
It’s the third biggest town in the Balaton area, but still not too big if you’re looking for small-town vibes.
The shore is filled with great hotels and apartment buildings that provide you Western-European service level for just a fraction of the price.
The Tagore promenade is in the center of town with small restaurants, ice cream shops, and boutiques, where you can always spend some time before hopping on to a sightseeing ship at the harbor.
You can choose from various programs: some offer only a 1-hour-long guided cruise along the shore, some are combined with a wine-tasting or dinner but you can simply use it as public transportation as well.
11 – Tihany
Tihany is just a 15-minute drive away from Balatonfüred. It’s located on the Tihany-peninsula where Lake Balaton is the narrowest.
If you like swimming and you feel fit enough to take part in a swimming contest, the annually held Balaton Cross Swimming may be a great way of doing sports. 5.2 kilometers within 58.5 minutes – that’s what it takes to break the current record.
Though Tihany is just a small village, it has the highest real estate prices in the country because it has the best view of all places. Tihany has also been home to the benedictine monks since the 11th century.
In the two-towered Benedictine Archabbey, there is a school and a museum today, so it’s a popular spot for tourists.
There’s another unique thing you can experience only there: the echo. The echo of Tihany has been a thing since the 1700s, great Hungarian poets mention it in their work.
There’s a whole legend about its origin but the truth is the echo exists due to the environmental formation of the area.
Since it’s a natural thing, it keeps changing, and the echo is not as strong as it was even just a few decades ago. If you don’t want to miss it, make sure to pay a visit to the hills of Tihany before it’s too late.
12 – Sopron
Far on the West, there’s a lovely town called Sopron. It’s on the border of Austria, so it was not always obvious which country it belongs to especially after the Trianon Treaty of 1921.
Sopron was given the name Civitas Fidelissima, meaning the town of loyalty in English, after the town held a referendum with the goal to decide which country they wanted to belong to and its inhabitants voted to stay a part of Hungary.
Those interested in wine culture surely know the potential that Hungary has in the field.
Sopron and its famous kékfrankos (blue frankish) is similar to the Burgenlander wines made on the other side of the border.
The city’s main sight is the 58-meter-tall Fire Tower that was built back in the 13th century.
Some reconstruction works have been finished recently, so now it’s all open to tourists who can enter the building in its original gate from Medieval times.
Beautiful Hungarian Cities Summary
Whether you’re looking for energy and excitement or calm and natural beauty, the cities of Hungary have something for everyone.
Many Hungarian cities have centuries of unique and eventful history to delve into, along with grand, quaint, and timeless architecture to marvel at.
Hungary also has plenty of great food to try, with its cuisine a diverse mix of Ottoman-era recipes and neighboring Balkans influence.
Away from the buzz and vibrance of cities like Budapest, you can step back in time in charming towns like Sopron.
Whether you’re visiting for food and drink, adventure, intrigue, or looking for a long-term home base, Hungary and its towns and cities are a great place to spend some time.
Looking to book your trip to Hungary?
If you’re eager to book your next trip to this beautiful country, the following services can help you.
- Skyscanner to find a great plane ticket.
- Booking.com or Agoda to find a hotel deal.
- Rentalcars.com to get your car rental.
- Safety Wing for insurance.
- GetYourGuide for tours and activities.
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Save and Pin for Later
Excited to plan a memorable adventure to Hungary in the future? Keep this article in a place you’ll remember it, by pinning it to one of your travel inspiration or destinations boards.
Author: Claudia Moricz is a Hungarian translator and creative writer from Sarospatak. When not translating texts, Claudia writes on a number of topics relating to her home country, including Hungarian food and top destinations.
Images licensed by Shutterstock
Alex S. Gabor
Sunday 5th of June 2022